X-Files Flashback: ‘Dreamland, Part One’

Dreamland

Season 6, Episode 4
Director: Kim Manners
Writer: Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz

This one is going to be another short one gang.

There are some episodes of The X-Files on which I could literally write tomes. Then, there are episodes like “Dreamland” whose name itself appears as an invitation to sleep through the episode. A conspiratorial sci-fi takeoff on Freaky Friday, Mulder switches bodies with a Man in Black, Morris Fletcher (Michael McKean), thanks to close-range exposure to what appears to be a UFO. That, by itself, is not a bad idea for an episode were it played for the right amount of humor. Yet, The X-Files “Dreamland, Part 1” ultimately blows the tone, mixing strange humor with the super-serious drama by episode’s end and closing on a cliffhanger note that will be resolved in the next episode.

The body switch takes place near Area 51 where Mulder and Scully were tipped off about the presence of an alien spacecraft. They are detained by Fletcher and his men, and, during their detainment, a spaceship flies overhead, its bright lights apparently, mysteriously causing Mulder to switch bodies with Fletcher unbeknownst to others. The rest of the episode becomes a muddle of events with “Fletcher” harassed by his wife (SNL‘s Nora Dunn), “Mulder” shacking up with random women and completely ignoring his typical pursuit of X-Files, and another solider switching bodies with an old Hopi Indian woman. Why? I have no idea. The episode ends with Scully growing increasingly frustrated with “Mulder’s” lack of focus but unable to believe “Fletcher’s” assertion that he is the real Mulder. As “Fletcher” is dragged away screaming his is actually Mulder, Scully appears to perhaps consider the possibility.

First, the most realistic thing about the episode is “Mulder’s” actions once he determines he’s in Mulder’s body. To understand what I mean, you have to consider Michael McKean becoming David Duchovny. Younger. Better looking. More sexually desirable. It is both hilarious and completely believable that “Mulder” would engage in random romantic trysts. He’s in a new body. Of course he’s going to take for a test drive. I mean, who wouldn’t? Ultimately, I have no idea what any of this ultimately means or has to do with any X-File. The fact that it took three writers to get here is inconceivable and a sure sign of a troubled episode. But I will reserve judgement until I entertain it as a complete whole after viewing “Dreamland, Part 2.” I’m not hopeful it will be better, but it would hopefully justify its rampant silliness.

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